Heavy storms have dumped heavy rainfall in southern Queensland, but the worst has yet to come, with the possibility of supercells, giant hail and even tornadoes later today.
- Up to 84 mm falls in less than 24 hours north of Brisbane
- Heavy storms with heavy rain currently over parts of Brisbane and Moreton Bay
- More serious storm activity forecast for southern Queensland this afternoon
A wide cluster of cells brought heavy rainfall to the Darling Downs and southeast overnight and this morning, with totals closing in at 100 millimeters above the southern Gold Coast hinterland and the Brisbane suburbs by the bay.
The cluster broke up late Thursday morning, but another round of storms is likely to break out again this afternoon.
A wide area from the NSW border to southern Capricornia and west to Maranoa is in the firing line, with potential for supercellular activity in the southeast corner, including devastating winds and even giant hail.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Shane Kennedy said there was an “external chance” for tornadoes to form in inland areas like Darling Downs.
“It’s generally a very low chance,” he said.
“You could definitely see some of the very dangerous thunderstorms with these higher phenomena, including devastating gusts of wind and giant hail — it’s hail five centimeters or more- [and] intense rainfall.
“[It’s] more likely to be the interior areas today, and all that arises should be fairly isolated, so it will only be a few places potentially in the shooting range.
Kennedy said the “danger zone” is likely to be west of Brisbane.
“Then in Darling Downs, Lockyer Valley and then up in Wide Bay and Burnett around Kingaroy and Gayndah,” he said.
“It is still expected to be the primary danger zone, but it can certainly be anywhere south of Rockhampton today may be the main danger zone.
“[We’re] expect them to track east, so anything that comes further west has the potential to track through the Brisbane suburbs this afternoon and evening. “
Queensland Emergency Management Minister Mark Ryan said there were three quick water rescuers ready to respond in the Ipswich, Beenleigh and Gold Coast regions.
“Also, all regions have extra capacity to stand up for extra fast water resources if conditions worsen,” he said.
The BOM said the system is expected to be slow in motion and could potentially hang along the coast until Friday morning, before spreading and posing a risk of storms inland and “also packages in the northeast”.
“There is still a potential for serious storm risk in the first part of Friday in the southeast until this trough moves through and then we get this drier air after,” said senior metrologist Felim Hanniffy.
Storm right in line
Sir. Hanniffy said the storm would be “just in line” for southeast Queensland for this time of year.
“October is mainly the start of the harsh weather season, so historically it’s the time of year where you start to see this type of setup and this kind of potential for severe storms,” he said.
He said today’s storm would be comparable to the one that hit the region on Halloween last year.
“Also last year we had some storm activity, especially through October and early November, and you may remember on Halloween that there were also significant hailstorms in the southeast.”
This storm caused significant damage to homes in the west of Brisbane.
Fire hazard on weekends
The BOM predicts that temperatures will rise after the storms are over.
Unfortunately, the prospect of a sunny weekend potentially leads to “increased fire hazards”.
The change of weather entails fire risks, especially around the southeast.
“Potentially, you could also see a serious fire hazard that could trigger a fire alarm,” Hanniffy said.
He said the three factors for dry airflow, gusts and warmer temperatures “really cause the increased fire hazards”.
“Especially during the second half of Friday, post it trough and also Saturday as you still want the windy westerly conditions around.”
Pond will hardly see consistent rainfall
As the threat of water restrictions hangs ominously over the region, the water level in the Wivenhoe dam is unlikely to see significant changes due to the storm.
Sir. Hanniffy said that despite the dam receiving good rainfall on Tuesday and the chance that it “could see some locally sharp falls” today, it was not the kind of weather that could drive real hikes.
“Storm activity tends to be a little more localized rather than when you have a more widespread rain event like we had before [this month], so it becomes rather sporadic in nature.
“There will be a few falls, probably not enough to have any meaningful effect on the Wivenhoe dam.”